This Wednesday night one-bend superstars Ronan Izmir and Paw Licking will add significant intrigue to the $80,000 Group Two Mega Merch Ballarat Cup. Both sprinters will race for an extra $50,000 if either manages to win the cup, as part of the GRV incentive for winning three country cup’s in a calendar year.
Australian Racing Greyhound was lucky enough to catch up with Paw Licking’s trainer Kel Greenough and Ronan Izmir representative Michael Sigalas for their thoughts leading into Australia’s richest country cup final.
“The two dogs are unbelievably evenly matched, almost identical on ability and I don’t think there is a breath between them. The dog that gets the breaks is the dog that will win the race, but if they do happen to go hammer and tongs at each other they can set it up for something else to run them down. It really is amazing how even these dogs are, they have been for months.”
“The GRV Bonus is a great incentive and probably means you have to have a crack at the cups if your dog is in line for the bonus, which is why both of them are there. It’s for double the money. If they could extend the rule and make it over a twelve month period it would be good, and not just a calendar year, as it would mean he would still have Warragul left. If your dog is flying in the middle of the year you have less bites at the cherry.”
“I think the incentive makes the quality of these country cups outstanding, but I believe they went up drastically when they changed the prizemoney for the heats. Now they are running for $5K instead of $1400 for the heats, city class dogs will compete for city class money. I don’t know if this is the biggest start of the dogs career, but with nearly $100k on the line it might be.”
“My dog is one hundred percent for Wednesday, he is fine, really good. I’m not sure where I will head after the final. The trouble is Hobart is eight days later and it’s hard to get to Hobart to give him a look. Saturday trials are too close to Wednesday night’s final and Monday trials are too close to Thursday’s race at Hobart. It’s really important with the Bramich lure, if you don’t trial you are almost guaranteed to miss the start by a length or two. If we don’t go to Hobart i’ll give him a few weeks off, he has been up for a long time. The Warragul Cup in January would be the next target.”
“Drawing under Paw Licking is a big advantage. We are hoping to come out as well as it and hold it to the first turn. These dogs have met three times in cup finals in the past and each time the winner has drawn underneath the other one. They won’t hit each other as Ronan Izmir moves down; I think one of the two will win the race.”
“We weren’t able to run Paw Licking down at Shepp, and he couldn’t run us down at Bendigo and Warrnambool. They are both exceptional horseshoe dogs. In the absence of Paw Licking, Ronan Izmir would be considered a champion and in the absence of Ronan Izmir, Paw Licking would be a champion. The rivalry has been such that they are splitting the spoils. Ronan Izmir has set three track records and I think Paw Licking has also set three track records.”
“If we can’t win the race, we would like the Paw Licking camp to get the chocolates. I think it’s exceptional for the industry that GRV offer these incentives, and it will make for great publicity if the bonus goes off. It will be a great story at a time that greyhound racing deserves such stories, especially in light of the garbage the was in the 7.30 Report on the ABC a month ago.”
“If our dog pulls up well, we will consider heading to Hobart fully aware that Black Magic Opal is heading that way. With Black Magic Opal and these two dogs, horseshoe racing hasn’t been better. Not since Brett Lee and Big Smig etc, have we had such pure quality.”